Elli Ingram has silky smooth vocals which she lays over foot tapping tracks that meander somewhere between R&B and jazz. Her second album Bad Behaviour, released earlier this year, is full of bad-ass and confident lyrics.
Take the opening track for example, No Plan B. It demands the listener to trust that Ingram will make it as a successful artist. The message is simple: Ingram knows her talent, so why should she do anything other than write and perform her music? And this young talent is proving her point by setting off on tour this October. This will include an appearance at Concorde 2 on Weds 1 Nov.
We speak on the phone and the humble, bubbly artist behind the call seems like a contradiction to the feisty persona that sings “I know you only want my bad behaviour” in the album’s title track. After all, Ingram is getting ready to fly to Greece for some zen before her tour. Sounds totally wholesome to me. It is a well-deserved holiday after a summer of festival gigs including Kendal Calling in the Lake District and El Dorado Festival in Herefordshire.
Bad Behaviour is a thirteen-track project created with long-time collaborator Aston Rudi.
It has come six years after her debut, Love You Really, and was recorded over four years. The album therefore encapsulates a lot of Ingram’s growth as a person and musician. The singles Heavy and Bad Behaviour were played live over the summer to which Ingram says, “it was so nice playing the new music. I loved seeing people actually singing back and enjoying it.” It gave her just a taste of what she has to look forward to in her headline shows later this year.
“When I started writing this album I was going through a lot of shit,” Ingram reveals on the origin story of her project.
It came from a place of heartbreak and hurt. “I was noticing a lot of people around me changing,” she continues. “So, I started to analyse people’s behaviour and it spiralled from there.” Songs like Selfish, for example, where Ingram sings about the pains of not loving herself or Trouble, a soul song about being stuck in a loveless relationship, started to come together. It has all been one big process of learning to let go and grow.
As a result, the writing of Bad Behaviour is mature and intelligent, not just in its context and themes, but musically too. Ingram’s voice has an indulgent soulful sound. This sound is really highlighted in her second project. Her voice is put over infectious bass lines or jazzy saxophone, and moments of simple piano and string instrumentation. “My songwriting and way of looking at the world around me has obviously grown and developed,” Ingram ponders. “You can really hear that in this album for sure.” It was a conscious effort to highlight her voice: “all I was saying to people is ‘I just want people to hear my voice and show off a bit. I have a big voice and a big story to tell.’”
Ingram’s story starts in Brighton because this is her hometown.
The third track on the album Growing Pains is an emotional reflection of her early years and family life growing up. Therefore, I asked if she could reminisce on this time a bit more. “Being in Brighton has allowed me to be completely and authentically myself. It has allowed me to move at a slower and more enjoyable pace.” We all love the city for its rich culture and inspiring creative energy, but one core memory that sticks out for Ingram was seeing Amy Winehouse perform live at the Brighton Centre. From that moment, Ingram really embraced the ‘can do’ attitude by deciding “I want to sing on a stage in my home city.” Her gig at Concorde 2 will therefore be a full circle moment, and a really special night to witness. “I feel really lucky for having that space.”
The journey into making music “got serious when I actually started to write songs,” Ingram tells me. “I have always loved singing, but never thought it would be something I do,” she continues. “When I started listening to Amy [Winehouse] and other artists I am inspired by, I started to take on board songwriting and the importance of lyrics.” Beneath the passion and curiosity however, songwriting is even more important to Ingram. She is dyslexic, so when she started to get praise for her songs she thought, “this is so much better that you think my lyrics are sick over you thinking I am a good singer.” “That was what really ignited the fire in me,” she affirms. Ingram used songs to express herself through words, where on a day-to-day basis she found that really difficult.
Ingram is a completely independent artist and is self-managed which of course comes with many challenges. She confesses, “it is very conflicting because there is a lot of stress but at the same time it feels amazing because you have so much control.”
This independence means she is constantly learning: “I came from a major label background to now being completely independent. It is a whole rewiring of what you know and how to navigate the industry.” However, the freedom to release music makes it all very rewarding. “I can be free with my art” she exclaims, “which is how it should be!”
With the tour coming up, Ingram says it will feel amazing to have everything come together. “The feeling I will feel when I stand on stage and think ‘shit, I did this and I made this happen’… I can’t even imagine how that will feel. I can’t wait.” This is when she tells me that she is going to Greece for two weeks to prepare for the tour. “I am really going to use that calm and relaxing time to think about the setlist and really start prepping,” she states. “I really want to put on the best shows of my life.”
Bad Behaviour is available to listen to on streaming services now. You can buy tickets to her show at Concorde 2 on Weds 1 Nov at www.elliingram.co.uk/.